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Critical Design Lab – USA


A podcast about disability, design justice, and the lifeworld

A banner with the text "Contra*" in black, centred on a white background.

Contra* is a podcast about disability, design justice, and the lifeworld created by Aimi Hamraie and produced by the contributors to the Critical Design Lab, a multi-institution project. Each episode features disability activists and designers using an interview format. A full transcripts is provided with each episode. 

Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play or play from their website.

What is “queercrip fashion”? Aimi speaks to Sky Cubacub, a fashion designer known for their colourful lycra, mesh, and chain mail designs. Sky presents their Rebirth Garments and Radical Visibility projects. Follow this link to listen. An interview transcript in English is also available. 

How do disability culture and design practices shape contemporary disability art? In this episode, Alice Sheppard talks about her project DESCENT, which includes choreography, spatial design and technology design.  Follow this link to listen.  An interview transcript in English is also available.

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Pandemic Postcards  – Canada & Mexico


Pandemic Postcards

Curated by Alex Bulmer, the Pandemic Postcards tell the stories of artists within the Deaf and disabled community living through the self-isolation and quarantine period of COVID-19.

Oasis by Maria del Carmen Camarena


Maria del Carmen Camarena is a vocalist who has performed in numerous musical groups. She appeared in the El Rey Nació opera from composer José Luis González Moya in Guadalajara city’s Teatro Diana in 2012 and performed at the fourth Nairobi International Culture Festival in 2016, along with other high-profile performances.

Because Sometimes Poetry Isn’t Beautiful by Hanan Hazime


Hanan Hazime is a multidisciplinary artist, creative writer, community arts educator and writing instructor living in Tkaranto/Toronto. She identifies as a Lebanese-Canadian Muslimah Feminist and Mad Pride Activist. When not writing or creating art, Hanan enjoys reading fantasy novels, over-analyzing things, photo-blogging, dancing with faeries in the woods and drinking copious amounts of tea.

Les Visages me Manquent by Edon Descollines


Edon Descollines is a visual artist, poet, dancer and actor known for the expressive quality of his performances and for his creativity and commitment. Joe, Jack et John is a theatre company of actors with intellectual disabilities or from diverse cultural backgrounds that produces original, bilingual, multidisciplinary shows combining video, dance and the spoken word.

HARBOURFRONT CENTRE, on Toronto’s waterfront, is an innovative non-profit cultural organization which creates events and activities of excellence that enliven, educate and entertain a diverse public. Our Mission is to nurture the growth of new cultural expression, stimulate Canadian and international interchange and provide a dynamic, accessible environment for the public to experience the marvels of the creative imagination. Our vision is to be a vibrant home for the culture of our time, inspiring people through the magic of the creative spirit. Harbourfront Centre is the producer and presenter of CoMotion Festival 2022, a new multi-disciplinary International Festival of Deaf and Disability Arts, curated by Alex Bulmer.


With 30 professional years across theatre, television, film, radio and education, Alex Bulmer is dedicated to intersectional collaborative art practice, fueled by a curiosity of the improbable and deeply informed by her experience of becoming blind.

She is activated by obstacles, well exposed to the absurd, and embraces generosity, listening, time and uncertainty within her artistic and personal life.

Named one of the most influential disabled artists by UK’s Power Magazine, Bulmer is an award-winning writer, director, actor and dramaturge. She is Artistic Director of Common Boots Theatre, co-founder of Cripping the Stage with British Council Canada, in Toronto, and the Lead Curator of CoMotion 2022, an international Deaf and Disability Arts festival produced by Harbourfront Centre.

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Víctor H, Mariana Tirado Martin, Gina Rubio, and
Diego Lamas Encabo – Mexico


Artists Víctor H, Mariana Tirado Martin, Gina Rubio, and Diego Lamas Encabo share their relationship to their art, body, and interior world.

Diego Lamas Encabo's painting 'Melusina' of a person and a cat, reclining together on a white pillow.

Melusina, by Diego Lamas Encabo. Courtesy of Diego Lamas.

Diego Lamas Encabo — Expressions


Painting is important for me.

It means I can express myself, regardless of my disability.

I feel free.

I’ve loved cats ever since I was very young, and I paint a lot – not only my cats, but also other ones I imagine and invent.

I intervene pictures by painters I admire, giving form to my ideas.

One way I express my affections is by doing a painting of someone and giving it to them as a present.

Mariana Tirado Martin’s abstract paintings, with thick brushstrokes in shades of pink, green, blue, yellow, and orange. Mariana’s name is signed on the bottom-right.

Selva, by Mariana Tirado Martin, acrylic, 42 × 59 cm, 2017.  Courtesy of Cristina Martin.

Mariana Tirado Martin — Soul, Speech, Colours


Painting makes me both happy and sad.

It makes me sad when I think about what I cannot do.It makes me happy when I feel that a better place exists.

Blue is sadness.

Green, happiness and contentment.

Red, joy.

And yellow, peace.

Through colours I express how I feel.

My soul speaks.

Serie Doppelgänger, by Víctor H, 2020.  Courtesy of the artist.

A black and white, close-up photo of artist Victor H. looking at themselves in a mirror.

Víctor H — A Self-Portrait Brief Essay


As a child I wanted to be an explorer. Some afternoons I’d leave my plastic action figures, put on my Perestroika boots and pack a bag with a rope, a sweater, a dark-green anorak, a few biscuits, a flask and a pair of binoculars (made from toilet paper tubes). Once everything was ready, I’d set off on my adventure and climb up the stairs in the patio of my house, imagining that I was climbing some far-flung mountain.

As I grew older, my dreams of becoming an explorer did not pan out; I didn’t develop in the same way as other adolescents did. I was aware of my body’s fragility, manifested by its lack of physical power. At the same time as these changes and the accompanying emotional distress, I discovered other means of exploring that took me on adventures of a different kind: reading. I started out with comic books called sensacionales ([often] about lucha libre wrestlers) that I picked up at the newspaper stand that I passed on the way to school. After finishing my homework, I read stories about the Wild West or the gritty side of Mexico City. A book fell in my hands a few years later, and I set off on an endless journey of reading. I found that the essay was the best way for me to express my concerns about illness and the literary experience. My interest in inner explorations has made me reflect on family memories and legacies, identity, corporeality, masculinity, sexuality, fragility, autonomy and independence.

My thoughts have also roamed beyond the written word and I have begun exploring the body through photography using the camera on my cell phone. Hence my series of self-portraits allowed me to come to terms with a body I rejected for many years. I continue exploring and trying out new ways of expressing myself to this day.

Storyteller Gina Rubio, Oral Storytelling show Apaga el televisor y enciende tu imaginación, Centro Cultural Casa del Faldón, Querétaro, Mexico, July 2017. 

Gina Rubio — The  Art of the Spoken Word


My life changed radically from one day to the next when I developed Guillain-Barré Syndrome. My entire body stopped moving, I lost my sense of touch. The rhythm of my life changed, yet it continued moving in the same direction. I was all that was left, encased in a body that contained me but failed to recognize me after it had disconnected itself from me. I had to unlearn the things I had learned because they were no longer useful to me. I had to reinvent myself. The same body that I had lived with for fifteen years on all kinds of stages, and whose movements, gestures and actions had helped me draw and pronounce my words, had abandoned me, taking with it my independence and some of my freedom. However, my voice stuck with me. Its strength, cadence and rhythm gave so much life to my stories, and I used it to continue being an oral storyteller. And that’s what I’ve done, despite the syndrome’s severe effects on my physical mobility and proprioception. I’ve now been telling stories for 15 years, helping to build a culture of peace and a more plural society, and showing that disability does not rule out creativity.

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